Bobby Hecksher of The Warlocks is as fascinating as his large scale psycheledic/shoegaze band is! He took the time to open up about his history and his experiences as one of the most influential music in psychedelic music.
When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
When I was in the 6th grade, I was randomly assigned Cello for music class. I really don’t know why we had that class now that I think about it; but I remember it being enjoyable. The teacher came around to each student and helped them with tuning, finger placement, and how to bow. When I first heard the sound of two strings being played together, forming a cord, I knew there was something there for me. Cello was a little boring so I switched to stand up bass a few years later. It was such a joy to play with a band. However, it wasn’t until I heard the Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth, and various punk rock bands (in my teens) that I wanted to actually pursue music. I didn’t get into the originators (Dylan, Beatles, Rolling Stones) until I was in my 20’s.
When you think about your musical history, what was the most important moment of your career?
There have been many important moments in my career, if you want to call it that. The main one was moving out of the swamps of Florida to Los Angeles. The whole world opened up to me and became an exciting place for me as a musician. Some of the shining moments were meeting Timothy Leary and all the good friends I still have from that period before he died in the early 1990’s, playing with Beck and hanging out with him was an eye opener to what the music business was really like; very cruel, and starting my own band (Charles Brown Superstar) with Benett Rogers as a crazy teenager. In those days, you could have all these crazy ideas and they would actually get properly released as oppose to today where everything is nightmare! What else? Meeting Rivers Cuomo to audition for Weezer was a really neat experience. I beat out a lot bass players but Mikey Welsh turned out to be tighter and got the gig. Mikey was a nice guy, it’s a real shame he passed away at such a young age. Rivers was really right on about a lot of things in music. Being focused, dialing in your sound, and not being sloppy… just shit you take for granted. Playing with Anton Newcombe was really great. He was drinking in those days but when you got through all that craziness I realized what a genius the guy was, and is. He really knew what things should sound like and how to get it right. He also pushed me to write and play guitar more and to start singing and stuff; that was all Anton! Up to that point I really just considered myself a bass player. It was a blast to play bass with the BJM but The Warlocks started to tour and I just couldn’t juggle both! There were so many amazing moments with The Warlocks. I got to tour the world with some of my best friends. We had some bummer moments for sure, but all and all this experience was and is what dreams are made of!
Was it inspiring or discouraging to have had so many different musicians in The Warlocks?
Neither; people just move on with their lives. I don’t really look at it like that. Corey got sober. He’s an amazingly gifted guitar player. Jenny moved to NYC. Jason (plucky) met Tristen and moved to Portland. Danny Hole met Sarah Jane and moved to NYC. Bob moved to Austin but he had other reasons. Fingers went back to Las Vegas. And some, I just had a falling out with and well, that’s life, as with Laura and few others. I’m hoping I can patch things up with Laura someday but we will just have to see. It is inspiring to play with people that are into it. It’s always a blast playing with JC, George, Chris, and Earl. They are really understanding and supportive!
How do you choose new musicians for your band?
If you don’t make me nervous; that’s pretty much it. That’s hard to find though!
You released “Enter At Your Own Skull Unreleased Vol.1” and “EXP” earlier this year on Bandcamp.com. What moved you to share almost 30 songs for free??
They are not good enough to release properly, but also couldn’t just sit on my computer either!
Which do you enjoy more, recording or performing?
Can we expect a new album next year?
If it’s good enough.
You’ve been playing local shows throughout the year while not on tour. Is L.A. your favorite town to play shows in?
No. People don’t really appreciate us here. They are kind of mean, actually. Jealousy, spoiled, too cool for school??? I really don’t know why. I get heckled a lot, people will shout at me to play “insert song” all night. It sucks. I hate that by the way (so hecklers, if you want a short set just shout shit at me and you will get one! It’s your money!). No one else in the world does that. I like to play France, London, Denmark, Switzerland, anywhere else in the world, please!
What’s your favorite The Warlocks album?
I look at more like favorite songs. Red Camera, House of Glass, Shake The Dope Out, Hurricane Heart Attack, Caveman Rock, Isolation, Song for Nico, I love Heavy Deavy Skull Lover, and The Mirror Explodes. They are like a warped dream!
What music and bands are you currently listening to?
Hawkwind, Boris, Ariel Pink, Black Mountain, Early Metal, Justice, Queen, AC/DC, Buzzcocks, Tones On Tails, Nikki Sudden, Austra, Hate Rock, Washed Out, John Maus.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Don’t be in big bands. Solo, duos, and trios will always last longer and be easier to mange than a 6-9 piece psychedelic rock group. The Kills, BRMC vs. Polyphonic Spree? It’s been our Achilles heel. Invest in compact, good sounding gear not the bulky stuff. You will cut costs on all levels.